Character Development

In my opinion one of the key components of a character is making their personality realistic. If the character’s personality isn’t realistic the reader will have a hard time connecting to the character, and the fewer characters a reader can relate to the less they will enjoy the book.

After personality the next important thing in my opinion is the character’s background. This is because a character’s background explains their personality, acts as the foundation for development, and gives reasoning to a character’s actions.

As mentioned in a previous blog one of my favorite series is the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, and one of the main reasons for this is the series does a wonderful job of establishing the characters’ personalities and backgrounds throughout the series and using that to establish how the character will develop. This makes for realistic and relatable characters even in a fantasy setting.

For instance one of my favorite characters from the series is called Murtagh. Murtagh is first introduced as a teenager fending for himself on the streets in the middle of the fictional dystopian continent of Alagaësia. This causes him to be naturally good in battle, and a little closed off from others. As the series goes on you learn that Murtagh had an abusive father, and that is why he so closed off. The reason this gets revealed is Murtagh was abducted by the dictator like King Galbatorix who informed Murtagh that the main character Eragon was actually Murtagh’s step brother. The combination of Murtagh’s envy at Eragon being sheltered from Murtagh’s father who was Eragon’s step father combined with the torture that Murtagh experienced at the hands of Galbatorix caused Murtagh to turn against Eragon to protect himself and the ones he loves. As the series progresses you see Murtagh once again join the fight against Galbatorix when aiding him put Murtagh’s loved ones in danger. After Murtagh helps defeat Galbatorix he actually leaves his loved ones behind because he is afraid that society won’t accept him do to his past. This character was so amazing because he was realistic. He had a rough past that made you sympathize with him, but also explains his actions and why he spends the whole series fending for himself as he had no other option growing up.

This is similar to the characters of Victor Frankenstein and his Creation from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This can be seen in the Creation’s rejection from society due to his appearance and origins. Murtagh is also similar to Victor in the sense that throughout the story both are trying to protect not only themselves, but their loved ones leading them to do things they would later regret. The main difference between Murtagh and Victor is Murtagh completely regrets his mistakes, but Victor only completely regrets a few of his mistakes. The main difference between the Creation and Murtagh is that even though both have been beaten, and at one point rejected by society, Murtagh had people that loved and accepted him where the Creation had no one.

Character development is what makes characters like Murtagh, Victor Frankenstein, and the Creation so memorable. They act and behave according to how their past shaped them just like anyone else would.

James Vane: Revenge Gone Wrong

In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, James Vane is the younger brother of Sibyl Vane who was an up and coming actress. That changed the day Dorian Gray proposed to Sibyl and showed her the possibilities the world had. This lead Sibyl to hate acting and she gave the worse performance of her life, and since Dorian only fell in love with Sibyl for her acting he ended his relationship with her and said he would never talk to her again. This moment of hope in the future followed by complete and utter hopelessness caused Sibyl to commit suicide.

This led James to seek out the man who caused his sister’s suicide and avenge her death. The first problem was the only thing James knew about Dorian was that Sibyl called Dorian Prince Charming. The second problem is when James finally found Dorian after years of searching James told Dorian his entire story and plan to murder Dorian like any cliché villain would. This let Dorian find away to convince James that Dorian never knew Sibyl. James’s third mistake was showing up at Dorian’s party after learning that Dorian was lying. This made Dorian on edge and more cautious about being alone. James’s fourth and final mistake was that he ran into the field Dorian’s friends were hunting in causing James to get shot and die. There was a series of mistakes that ruined James’s revenge, but in the end it was in a sense fulfilled as Dorian accidentally killed himself later.

Heart of Darkness: A Warning to Humanity

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, there are many themes such as the dangers of greed, but one main over arching theme is that are choices decide whether we are good or evil, and every human has evil in them that can corrupt them. This can be seen in the character Kurtz. Kurtz is depicted in the first part of the book as the perfect European. He originally went to Africa to “civilize” the Africans, but after he arrived and started doing his job of collecting ivory he greatly changed. Kurtz started to go insane with power. This was because he went to Africa with the mind set that he was better than the natives there. Kurtz’s next choice was to introduce himself as a god to the natives, and to retain his control over them by murdering anyone who would stand up against him. This constant path of greed and murder even though Kurtz was considered the perfect European the evil corrupted him. This is supposed to show that anyone can be corrupted if they aren’t careful, and that are choices change us for better of for worse.

Victor Frankenstein: The Creator of His Own Doom

In the book Frankenstein by Marry Shelly, a medical student named Victor Frankenstein who is telling the story of how his wish to be godlike ruined his life. When Victor creates life in the laboratory he flees and abandons his creation. This leads the creation to learn write or wrong by himself, but the creation feels isolated. This isolation plus abuse from local villagers lead the creation to murder the loved ones of Victor, and eventually the death of Victor himself caused by hunting the creation. If Victor had thought of all of the effects his experiment may have beforehand or even just taken responsibility for his creation Victor could have prevented the deaths and lived a happy life.

A Journey Begins

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

One of my favorite books is Eragon. Eragon is the first book in Christopher Paolini’s series, Inheritance Cycle. This series was originally published by Paolini online when he was in high school, and one day a publisher saw it and contacted Paolini and the series got published. The first book is named after the main character, Eragon, who is a farm boy in a land called Alagaesia. The following is a quick synopsis of the book.

One day, Eragon goes hunting in the woods, and comes home with nothing but a mysterious stone. Eragon then tries to sell the stone, but the man he tries to sell it to won’t buy it as he believes the area the stone came from is cursed. Eragon then takes the stone home and goes to bed. He wakes up in the middle of the night to find the stone shaking, and watches as it falls off a shelf. As he picks what he believes to be a stone up he realizes it is an egg, and a sapphire blue dragon comes out of the egg. When the baby dragon touches the palm of Eragon’s hand, he receives a gedwёy ignasia, which creates a bond between a dragon and its rider. Eragon doesn’t know what is going on but is quickly coming to love this creature.  He feeds it and then hides it at the edge of the woods where he can take care of it without getting in trouble with the evil King Galbatorix.

Eragon then seeks the guidance of the town storyteller, Brom, to find out how to take care of the baby dragon. Brom is the only storyteller in the land who tells the stories of the dragons and their Riders. Brom quickly picks up on Eragon’s not so subtle questions and tells Eragon how to take care of the dragon and tells Eragon some of the previous dragons’ names. Eragon then chooses to name his dragon after the late Saphira due to his dragon’s color. Before Eragon leaves for each meeting with Brom, Brom warns Eragon the dangers of having a dragon.

Brom tells Eragon that years before Eragon was born, there were hundreds of Riders, and Galbatorix was one of them. Then one day Galbatorix’s dragon was killed, and he sought a new one. When the Riders refused to allow him a new one he forced an egg to hatch with dark magic and waged a civil war amongst the Riders. When he won, he made sure the only Riders left were under his control. Eragon told Brom he understood his warning and went home.

One day though, when Eragon went home he found his home burned down, and his uncle dead. This leads Eragon, Saphira, and Brom on a journey into the world of Elves, Dwarves, Urgals, magic, and many other mystical things. Eragon soon realizes there is so much more to Alagaesia then what happens in his small town.

I love this book for its use of many mythological species and very interesting plot. I definitely recommend this book and series to anyone who likes fantasy, fiction, and adventure books.